How to tell if you have combination skin, and the best skincare products for it

Not sure if you have combination skin? We asked two skincare experts to explain everything you need to know about the common skin type.

In order to have an effective skincare routine, it’s important to know your skin type. While advice for dry skin and oily skin is pretty straight forward, knowing how to deal with a combination skin type can be slightly more difficult to navigate. Which is pretty shocking, considering it’s the most common type of all.

Hinted in the name, combination skin is, well, a combination of dry and oily skin. But what are the most common signs of this skin type? And what is the best way to treat the different needs on your face? We asked two skincare experts how to tell if you have combination skin and the best skincare products and ingredients to add to your routine.

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So, what exactly is combination skin?

“The definition of combination skin is simply when a person has both dry and oily skin,” explains Dr Shaaira Nasir, consultant dermatologist at sk:n. “This is usually when someone will have an oily t-zone across their forehead, around their nose and chin, with the rest of the face and cheeks being drier and, in some cases, flaky.”

How can I tell if I have combination skin?

“A combination skin-type person would commonly complain of an overwhelming dry quality to the lateral parts of the face, so the outermost cheek areas,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr Nyla. “While excessive oil and shine is more prominent to the mid-third of the face.”

Dr Nasir adds, “These oily areas are also where you are more prone to getting large pores or spots and blemishes.”

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What causes combination skin?

“People get a lot of oil across their t-zone is because this is an area where you have a lot of sebaceous glands, also known as oil-producing glands,” says Dr Nasir. “If you are someone who has had a lot of sun exposure with little-to-no protection then your cheeks and also your forehead will mainly be the areas that will be affected by dryness.”

Dr Nyla adds, “Alongside environmental factors, genetics, including your ethnicity, and lifestyle factors, like stress, can determine if you have combination skin. The causes of combination skin are multifactorial.”

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Which ingredients and products should I be using use for combination skin?

“One way to try and treat combination skin is to figure out which area is bothering you the most,” advises Dr Nasir. “For example, pick a gel-based cleanser if your biggest concern is dryness as this will not be too harsh against those sensitive areas. Or, look for a cleanser or toner that has salicylic acid as an ingredient to help target your t-zone and reduce oil production.

“Another thing you can do is consider avoiding rich moisturisers and instead use one that is non-comedogenic especially on your t-zone to avoid blocking your pores.”

When it comes to your skincare routine as a whole, Dr Nasir says it’s important to consider how products will work alongside each other. “If you are someone who has introduced retinol into your skincare routine and dryness is a skincare concern, try applying a moisturiser on the areas of concern roughly 30 minutes after application,” she says. “This will help to rehydrate and keep any flaky-ness under control.”

Dr Nyla also recommends blotting paper to get rid of excess oil in the t-zone area. Not only does this keep oil at bay, it can eliminate shine and prevent the need for make-up re-application, if you’re wearing any.

Best skincare products for combination skin

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